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AASP/NJ Sends Out Warning to Members Following Vermont Manslaughter Case

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Aug. 19, 2015—The Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ) sent out a warning to its members on Tuesday after a Vermont automotive technician was arrested last week for manslaughter, a charge that stemmed from an alleged incomplete vehicle inspection.

On Tuesday, Aug. 11, Steven Jalbert, a Vermont mechanic, was arrested for manslaughter after an incomplete inspection on a 1992 Chevrolet Corsica in May 2014. The inspection allegedly led to the driver’s death two months later. The investigation uncovered that the brake lines and rocker panels in the vehicle were rusted and corroded, which classified them as in “visibly unsafe condition.” The affidavit alleged that the mechanic did not take basic steps in inspecting the car. Jalbert has pleaded not guilty, but if convicted on all charges, faces up to 16 years in prison.

Although it took place at a mechanical repair shop and had no involvement with insurance companies, AASP/NJ Executive Director Charles Bryant said the incident can still be a reminder for collision repair facilities to perform proper and safe repairs.

“This should be a wake up call to the collision industry,” Bryant said. “It’s one thing if you allowed a bad job to get out of your shop and were sued—there’s insurance to cover things like that—but to go to jail for doing a careless job is a whole different story. So many shops try to do the right thing but are told by insurers that they won’t properly reimburse them for what needs to be done. They say things like they will only pay for used suspension, which, in my opinion, is the worst thing that could be done! Used suspension from a total loss should never be used; there could be internal damage that puts people’s lives in jeopardy. We have to stand up and say no in cases like that.”

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